Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday portrayed President Donald Trump as a “desperate loser” whose claims of being the victim of a massive fraud underscore why Joe Biden is on his way to being the next president of the United States.
“Donald Trump’s kind of posture his whole life has been, ‘Either I win or it’s been stolen.’ It’s his grievance politics. This is who he is. He plays the grievance card,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times.
“The same way he said he had the ‘biggest [inauguration] crowd. Bigger than Obama. Best president that Black America ever had.’ Then he goes on to make a claim like this, which is, he didn’t lose. It was stolen. He gets to walk away with whatever die-hard followers he has saying this was not legit. It’s all about him and nothing to do with the country.”
Emanuel is now a political commentator for ABC who has also served as an unofficial adviser to the Biden campaign. The two men worked together in Congress and again in the Obama administration during Emanuel’s days as White House chief of staff.
He argued that Al Gore had a “more legitimate claim” to being treated unfairly after the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the 2000 recount than Trump has today.
That’s apparently why the major networks cut away as Trump spoke from the White House Thursday night and made an unfounded accusation that the election was being stolen from him.
“I’ve seen networks not give a president prime time” when they didn’t think there was “a sense of urgency” to what the president had to say, Emanuel said.
“But to literally either pull away or not carry — I’ve never seen that on something of this magnitude,” he added. “It tells you something. It’s symbolic of something. He’s come across as a desperate loser. ... It underscores why the country has turned to Joe Biden. You couldn’t imagine Biden talking about legitimate votes versus illegitimate ballots.”
The fact that Trump nearly won by turning out “working class white voters” — without trying to “build out from his base” — is somewhat amazing to Emanuel.
“Even with a 9% unemployment rate and devastating COVID, he almost pulled off something that I never thought was possible,” the former mayor said.
“It’s horrible for the character of the country. The damage will take us years and decades to rebuild from. That said, as purely a person who observes and practices in the art of politics, you have to somewhat begrudgingly admire him.”
Once the flurry of Trump lawsuits are dismissed, Emanuel said he expects a peaceful transition of power.
But he doesn’t expect Trump to return quietly to Mar-a-Lago or relinquish the gigantic megaphone he has built on Twitter.
There’s even talk Trump might start his own conservative network to rival Fox.
“I’d love to be a fly on the wall among Trump and the Fox people because there’s no doubt that he feels betrayed by them. Boy would that be a meeting I’d like to go to,” Emanuel said.
“That said, Donald Trump is too much of a narcissist to just walk away and work on his golf swing. My guess is he will continue to play an out-size role in the Republican Party and continue to shape it as a party of Donald Trump.”
With the GOP apparently maintaining control of the U.S. Senate, Emanuel said Biden will have to pick his battles and accomplish what he can on climate change by rejoining the Paris accord and using his executive powers to reduce auto emissions and curtail “methane release from fracking.”
“The idea that you’re gonna do climate change with Mitch McConnell from Kentucky? Not gonna happen. [Instead] you say, ‘If I can ... figure out how I can do it administratively without legislation, it doesn’t make you trade climate change against health care, against taxes. You’re not negotiating against yourself,” he said.
Emanuel noted that, as vice president, Biden negotiated with McConnell on tax policy in 2012.
“Having a personal relationship of trust, even when you disagree, allows you to have a conversation without having to get warmed up. You can sit down because you’re known to each other,” he said.
As for his own future, Emanuel said he’s happy with the “balance” he has found in his life.
But he did not slam the door on serving in the Biden administration in some capacity.
“If the president calls, that’s one thing. But, I don’t expect that,” he said.
He also dismissed the notion of former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders joining the Biden cabinet, because it would be up to the governors of their home states to appoint their replacements in the U.S. Senate.
“Both those senators come from states with Republican governors. I can’t predict what the Biden administration will do. But I doubt they will pull a Democratic senator out of a state with a Republican governor,” Emanuel said. “It can be done. I just don’t see it.”